I’m doing volunteer work that channels my skills as a speechie. And today I went to a meeting about learning support for my nephew. Werid dynamics there. Sure, I’ll do CELFs on the kids at school, just get me the $1k assessment to do it with.
IT’s fun, and scary. Doing the things I’m good at, but praying to a nonexistent god that I’m gonna get it right.
The appointment this morning was stressful, but because of the whole having to meet a new person and trying to understand what was going to happen next.
I’m with a Disability Employment Services provider which means they can help me in more tangible ways than the regular Job Services Australia people could – especially since I was a “level 1” who was supposedly quite capable of doing it all myself.
So, I have a new contact there, we spent an hour going through my history and what made me flake out at my old jobs, and thinking about what sort of work I want to get into, both short term (this year) and longer term. I have to mull over whether SP is what I want to get back into or not, and related fields that might suit me better now and in the future. I totally know that I still want to work in some sort of disability related field, but what and with who is not certain. I said flat out no to hospitality, though :p If i was stress, I wanna get paid well for it!!
I no longer have to make 10 contacts a fortnight about potential jobs, nor do I have to take that list into Centrelink at their whim. I still have to go to Centrelink now and then to prove that I’m alive or something, and tick the boxes online. They put me as capable of 15 hours work a week for now.
Oh and I also get pharmaceutical allowance and a pension card with my Newstart. Rich, baby!
No front desk just a video phone to call them to let them know your here. There were three seats, so it is also the waiting room area…
Yeah, the entrance to the office was weird, impersonal, and totally crap for people with phone phobias! Fortunately that wasn’t me, but it did add to my already heightened level of anxiety and confusion when I wasn’t able to immediately be reassured that I was in the right place at the right time and I wasn’t just imagining things.
So, I think I’ve FINALLY calmed down from it, let’s see how this all goes – I go back on the 30th.
Babies are born communicating. Their cries and coos speak volumes. However, much-anticipated first words do not appear until 12 months later. By 18 months, the average child says about 50 words. By the time a child is ready to start school, their vocabulary will be an estimated 2,300 to 4,700 words.
Speech and language development takes time. Speech gradually becomes easier to understand; language gradually becomes more sophisticated.
Problems arise when speech and language milestones are not met. Left untreated, children who start school with speech and language difficulties face an increased risk of reading and writing difficulties, more bullying, poorer peer relationships and less enjoyment of school. So, what should parents expect of children at different ages?
‘Normal’ speech and language development
During the early years a child learns language – that is, converting thoughts and emotions into words. A child also learns speech – that is, figuring out the mouth movements needed to make speech sounds in words and deciphering the rules for how those sounds combine to form words.
For instance, children learning English learn that you can start a word with three consonants, but that the first consonant must be s, the second consonant p, t or k and the third consonant l, r, w or j as in splash, street and square.
By 24 months, a child should have at least 50 words and should be putting two words together. These two-word utterances should form basic sentences to request actions (“mummy up”), request objects (“more milk”) and make comments (“big ball”).
The child should also understand a range of words and follow simple commands (“Where’s your nose?” “Where’s Amy’s tummy?”). Approximately 50% of a 24-month-old’s speech should be understood by an unfamiliar listener.
Speech errors such as substituting easy speech sounds for more difficult sounds (saying “wook” for “look”), omitting sounds in words (saying “poon” for “spoon”) and deleting entire syllables (saying “getti” for “spaghetti”) are typical of this age.
Between 24 and 36 months, a child’s speech and language ability should show rapid growth. By 36 months, 75% of what a child says should be understood by an unfamiliar listener.
By 48 months, a child should be talking in much longer, grammatically correct sentences. The child should be joining sentences using words such as “and” and “because”.
As many parents will be able to confirm, children can ask an average of 107 questions an hour including: what, where, who, whose, why and how? A four-year-old should be able to explain recent events. However, they may struggle with some elements, particularly those involving time. “When” questions can be difficult for a child to answer.
Familiar two- and three-step instructions (“wash your hands and dry them”) as well as less routine-bound instructions (“show me the monkey sitting under the chair”) should be understood. Speech should be 100% intelligible to an unfamiliar listener by 48 months.
Errors such as “poon” for “spoon” should have disappeared. Some speech sounds may still be difficult: particularly “r” and “th”, so that “rabbit” may still be pronounced as “wabbit” and “thumb” may be pronounced as “fum”.
If your two-year-old isn’t talking, or your four-year-old’s speech is difficult to understand, seek the advice of a speech pathologist. Do not wait until your child starts school to seek help. Children can have better outcomes if they receive help before they start school.
Vocabulary and long-term outcomes
The amount and types of words addressed to children in the home from a young age correlates with their growing vocabulary. In an interesting longitudinal study of 42 children and their families, two researchers observed children at home once a month for an hour for 2 ½ years.
When they analysed their data according to family socio-economic status (upper socio-economic status, middle/lower socio-economic status and welfare) they noticed that the average child from a family on welfare heard 616 words per hour, the average child from a middle/lower socio-economic status (working class) family heard 1,251 words per hour while the average child from an upper socio-economic status (professional) family heard 2153 words per hour. When they extrapolated their results over four years of experience, they found that:
the average child in a professional family would have accumulated experience with almost 45 million words
an average child in a welfare family would have accumulated experience with 13 million words.
Children should be seen and heard, and engaged in conversation from a young age. If you are concerned about your child’s speech or language development, seek the advice of a speech pathologist.
Elise Baker has received funding from the Australian Research Council, and the New South Wales Department of Education. She works for The University of Sydney. She is affiliated with Speech Pathology Australia.
Natalie Munro has received funding from NSW SPELD. She works for The University of Sydney. She is affiliated with Speech Pathology Australia.
Every day more than 1.1 million Australians have difficulty communicating.
Speech Pathology Week runs from 24-30 August. The theme for the week is a ‘Nation for Communication’.
Speech pathologists are aiming to make Australia a ‘Nation for Communication’ by increasing the understanding of communication disorders and how they impact on people’s lives.
Sadly many people with a communication disorder suffer in silence….. Most of us take communication for granted.
It’s estimated that one in five people will experience communication difficulties at some point in their lives. This can range from mild to very severe and can impact on the way they participate in family life, the community, education and the workplace.
Around 13,000 Australians use electronic communication aids to get their message across, while 20 per cent of four-year-olds have difficulty understanding or using language.
But speech disorders don’t just affect the young. At least 30 per cent of people post-stroke suffer loss of language, with 85 per cent of those with Parkinson’s disease having voice, speech and/or swallowing difficulties.
Three in every 1,000 newborns have hearing loss, which without intervention can affect their speech, language and literacy. Indigenous children have three times more hearing problems than non-Indigenous children.
Over 1.1 million Australians have a communication or swallowing disorder that impacts on the quality of their life. That is roughly the same number of Australians who live with diabetes! And three times the number of Australians who suffer from dementia.
Speech pathologists are specialists in all forms of communication. We work with people to maximise their ability to communicate in a way that best meets their needs and abilities.
We work with people who have difficulty communicating because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disability, autism, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and hearing loss, as well as other problems that can affect speech, language and communication – like Motor Neurone Disease, which we keep hearing about as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, because of the Ice Bucket Challenge!
Speech pathologists work in a wide range of settings – schools, hospitals, nursing homes, universities, kindergartens, rehabilitation centres, community health centres, private practice and mental health services.
I’m sure you know someone with a communication difficulty like those described above – Would you care to share your story in the comments? Or write your own post and link it up in the linky!